Montoya ends P3, retains IndyCar points lead


INDIANAPOLIS – Juan Pablo Montoya banked his first road course Firestone Fast Six appearance since his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series on Friday, and in Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, he followed it up with his third podium of the season.

More importantly, he retains the series points lead heading into the rest of the month of May. He has 171 points, with race winner Will Power on 166 and Helio Castroneves on 161.

Given Montoya’s weakness, relatively speaking, on road and street courses this year, he’s rather pleased about the fact he’s come through the opening five rounds on road and street courses leading the pack.

“It’s exciting, to be honest,” Montoya said. “My goal this year was not to lose that many points coming to Indy. I know our strong part of the season should be the ovals, you know what I mean, some of the road courses. I was looking forward to not be that far behind because I know once the ovals start I can make up some points.

“Having the points coming into Indy, it’s encouraging. We were fastest in the open test. The car felt really good, too. I’m pretty happy.”

Montoya started fourth and was lucky to avoid the first corner fracas off the start of the race.

He addressed one question about the run to Turn 1 and basically said “we should have knew this was coming” off a rolling start rather than a standing start, as it was last year.

“It’s the start of the race. Get over it. You know what I mean?” Montoya said. “You put us on the longest straight you can think of, you put a first-gear corner at the end of it, what do you think is going to happen? We’re not that smart (laughter).”

But he added of the day itself, “Yeah, it was good. I mean, we ran good all day. We pushed really hard.

“I got behind a little bit at the start. Behind but not behind. I was on the outside. There was really nowhere to go. (Scott) Dixon spun in front of me. I avoided that. I thought that was really good. It was really good I didn’t get tangled with anybody. But we lost three places.

“Made it tough because you’re behind. Our first pit stop, we had a problem with the right front, so we lost little bit of ground. I stayed behind Simon and Bourdais, made it a little tough. But after that, you know, the next one I passed them. Rahal was the one I didn’t manage to get. I thought we had the same pace.”

Montoya addressed traffic as well during the post-race presser, specifically Barber winner Josef Newgarden who through no fault of his own was stuck in-between Power and either or both of Graham Rahal and Montoya most of the race.

“Even if there was no rules, if you’re more than one lap down, you shouldn’t be getting in the way of the leaders.” Montoya said.

“The guy won last week. He should know better. If they did it to him last week, he lost the race because of that, he would have been crying and moaning.”

At least Montoya wasn’t, and at one point during the press conference noting Rahal’s own ire at Newgarden, he laughed off the fact he wasn’t the most frustrated man in the room.

“Glad somebody is more pissed off than me,” said the points leader.

Will Power shows Flavor Flav what time it is in IndyCar: ‘This is the highlight of the weekend’

Will Power Flavor Flav
Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

DETROIT – When Flavor Flav unexpectedly showed up in Team Penske’s pits for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend, Will Power knew what time it was.

So the defending NTT IndyCar Series champion dropped it on the man who made oversized clocks as fashion accessories famous.

And he used the kind of wordplay that was the pride of Public Enemy (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rap group led by Chuck D with Flavor Flav as loyal sidekick).

“I said to Flavor Flav, ‘You know, people today are going to have to ‘Fight the Power,’ ” Power said with a broad smirk, referencing one of Public Enemy’s most memorable and strident anthems. “And it was true! They had to ‘Fight the Power.’ ”

With a second place in Detroit, the No. 12 Dallara-Chevy driver earned his best finish since last September and impressed a musical hero who apparently attended his first IndyCar race this weekend and promptly fell in love with the sport.

After being interviewed by NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee during the Peacock qualifying broadcast Saturday, Flavor Flav made the rounds. He met with Roger Penske in Team Penske’s at-track headquarters and also ran into Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (who was at the track Saturday).

“I have a great picture of Roger Penske, the governor and Flavor Flav,” Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker said. “It’s a great one. I’ll cherish that one for a long time. It’s pretty precious.”

With the Detroit GP holding nightly free concerts in Hart Plaza inside the race course, Flav made an impromptu appearance to freestyle at Big Boi’s show Friday before also showing up during Steve Aoki’s Saturday night set.

He then rode with Power and his wife, Liz, in a pickup truck around the 1.645-mile street course during driver introductions Sunday morning.

Flav was wearing a red No. 12 Will Power shirt that the defending series champion believes was purchased at a track merchandise trailer.

“That is the highlight of the weekend,” he said. “Flavor Flav was wearing my shirt, man.”

It was a dream come true for the two-time IndyCar champion and 2018 Indy 500 winner. Power, 42, grew up listening to Public Enemy with his buddies in Toowoomba, Australia, and they went nuts when he posted photos with Flavor Flav to his personal Facebook page.

“My friends are like, ‘Dude, you should just quit racing now. You have made it to the top,’ ” Power said. “We all listened to Public Enemy, and they would never believe that I actually would be hanging out with Flavor Flav. That is nuts. I’ll have to go Vegas to hang out with him. Maybe we’ll do a rap together.”

“Yeeaaah, boy!” third-place finisher Felix Rosenqvist, who apparently gave “It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” a few spins while growing up in Sweden, chimed in during the postrace news conference.

The only disappointment for Power was coming up 1.1843 seconds short of beating Alex Palou.

Flav had promised to celebrate on the podium if Power had won the race.

“He is the most positive dude you will ever meet,” Power said. “Pretty cool experience. Pretty cool to put it on your personal Facebook.

“All your friends that you went to school with, they’re like, ‘Man this dude is big-time, he’s hanging out with Flavor Flav. ‘I sat next to Ice-T at dinner. I have also had dinner with Slash from Guns N’ Roses. I wish I got videos of those ones as well so I could put it on the personal Facebook

“No one cares about race cars or that I won the Indy 500. It’s like, ‘You had dinner with Slash? You know Flavor Flav?’ Yeah!”

Power already has in mind some future musical guests he’d like to meet, starting with another of Detroit’s own.

“I’m more of a ’90s rap guy, but if I met Eminem, that would also be epic,” Power said. “Ice Cube’s the one, man. If I could meet Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg in Long Beach. Why doesn’t someone bring them to Long Beach? Maybe they should have an Ice Cube day. That would be dope.”